Trevor Duncan is one of the most successful composers of light classical music of the late-twentieth century.
Born Leonard Charles Treblico in 1924, he learned to play by ear; a violin course and one class each on harmony and counterpoint constituted his only formal training, his real education coming from library books and scores that he studied on his own. He joined the BBC at 18 as a production assistant, but was drafted into the Royal Air Force soon after. He returned to the BBC in 1948 and became a master in the art of broadcasting music, particularly the placing of microphones for optimal results. His composing career began with a short piece called Vision in Velvet, for which he chose the composer pseudonym Trevor Duncan. As a BBC employee, he was precluded by station rules from getting his music broadcast on the network; instead, he wrote for publishers who needed scores to accompany newsreels and feature films (and later, television). He left the BBC in 1956, established as a composer for three different publishers, and in 1959 enjoyed his first chart hit with The Girl From Corsica. The latter became a BBC staple and a hit single in the hands of the Ron Goodwin Orchestra. The March from his Little Suite was heard for years as the title theme for the British series Dr. Finlay's Casebook, and was also used very heavily for decades in America on radio and television in various capacities. Duncan's most obvious influence was American pop composer David Rose, manifested in the bold, clear string writing of his pop-oriented works, but he has also written beautiful pastoral works -- recalling the music of Vaughan Williams and Peter Warlock -- and unsettling, dissonant music evocative of dark futures and conflict. Duncan's music can be heard in various films, specifically written for them in the case of Joseph Losey's thriller Finger of Guilt, or "tracked" in from his existing library, as with Grip of the Law, immortalized as the title music of the notoriously inept (but incredibly popular) chiller Plan 9 From Outer Space. His work has been heard in such children's television shows as Marvel Super-Heroes, Space Angel, and Diver Dan, and in classics like the BBC's Quatermass and the Pit. His output also features serious concert music, including the Sinfonia Tellurica. In the 1990s, he turned his attention to writing for the theater.